A Travellerspoint blog

The End.

10 months, 10 countries, one continent, 763 hours on buses, 106 hostels, hundreds of mosquito bites, some great friendships and one amazing adventure!!!!

Today has been our last day and despite an initial hangover, we had a nice day exploring Ipanemas hippy market and buying last minute souvenirs- weve just had our last supper and reflected over the past 10 months. Its amazing to think its been 10 months since we left and to think back at all the things weve seen and done. Since arriving weve seen rainforests, tropical beaches, glaciers, deserts, waterfalls, giant white salt flats, geysers, giant snowcapped mountains, ancient ruins, humpback whales, volcanoes and carribean seas! All in one continent! South America is such a amazing and diverse place, and weve learned so much on this trip- its been such a great experience, and we highly reccomend getting out here and seeing it for yourselves!! Thanks for following us and we´ll see you all soon!!

Over and out!!

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Posted by St Martins 18:19 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Full Circle!!

Back in Rio!

Luckily after the kille bus journey to salvador we had had the foresight to book a flight from Salvador to Rio well in advance for a quarter of the price. The first day here we just slept as we had stayed the previous night in the airport. The next day we headed in to town and jumped on the bondhi tram up to Santa Teresa and relived our first day of the trip, strolling round the cobbled streets and having a beer in a nice old school bar where we spent our first night, 10 months ago (we even saw a guy in there that we´d met on the first night).

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We walked down from Santa Teresa using the Selaron staircase- a set of 215 steps leading from Lapa to the Santa Teresa convent, with each step tiled in different colours and tiles from all over the world by a local artist, which is really cool. The artist was even sat at the bottom doing a bit of fixing.

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That night we headed round the corner from our hostel and had a few beers in the street and chatted about all the things we´d done since we were here last. Rio seems much nicer this time, maybe because we´re better travellers now or maybe its just that Rio is getting ready for the world cup and olympics and the council are making an effort to clean the place up and make it safer. We also went for a stroll along Ipanema beach and went and watched some cute dogs getting pampered and having haircuts in one on the ´Dog Salons´. On Saturday night we decided....´its nearly our last night, lets have a big one´- so we headed out to Lapa. THE place to go for music, dancing and drinking. There are loads of stalls everywhere selling cheap hot dogs and even cheaper Caiparinias. There were tons of upmarket salsa clubs all charging sky high prices to squeeze in and stand shoulder to shoulder in the packed bars, but there were so many open air bars with live salsa music that we couldnt really justify paying to get in. We ended up having an awesome night wandering up and down the main street stopping to buy capirinhas, listen to the live bands, and watch a roaming group of Hare Krishnas jumping about and having a singsong. Before we knew it, we were very merry, and it was 4am- so decided to head home. We were just about to get a taxi when a bus stopped right next to us- and took us right outside our hostel. So we ended up having a pretty cheap night out!

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Posted by St Martins 17:46 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Belem and Salvador

So after a few days relaxing on the beach we heard on to a boat for another 3 days to Belem, a city right on the mouth of the Amazon! The boat was alot of fun this time, lots of families who live in the jungle paddling out to the boat in their little canoes to pick up supplies like rice and also trying to sell fish, it was really great to watch all the small amazon villages as we floated passed. We were both still a bit ill (the boat food probably didn´t help) but it was still a great experience. When we got to Belem we headed to the only hostel in town which was extremely overpriced but with nowhere else to go we had to stay there. We had gotten a taxi into town since the boat didnt dock until after dark- on the journey we asked our taxi driver if it was safe to walk about after dark in the city- as he was in the process of assuring us that it was safe as houses, we saw a guy leg it up to the window of the car in front, snatch a mobile phone out of the drivers hand and then dissapear in the night. Maybe not so safe then. The town itself was relatively nice by daylight though, and since Belem is the gateway port to the amazon, there were loads of colourful markets selling all sorts of jungle produce, from strange looking fruit and veg to some weird and brightly coloured fish.

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Despite having a few things to do, Belem was fairly nondescript and since we were recovering from being ill we didnt really do much. Our next destination was Salvador and after forking out a ridiculous 289 reis for the bus and writing off 36 hours of our lives, we arrived at the bus terminal at 2 in the morning and sat there like a couple of tramps until daylight.
We had pretty mixed feelings about Salvador, the culture of the place is pretty interesting as tons of slaves were bought here and so there is a really strong african culture- loads of african influenced music, artwork and religion. The tourist area is called the pelourhino and consists of loads of old colourful buildings and all types of music going on all day long, from Samba to Capoeira (hybrid dance/martial art). At night its really easy to see typical Brazillian music as well since almost every bar has a band on.

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The downside was that since the area is frequented by a lot of tourists, you get a lot of very persistant begging and people trying to flog you rubbish that you dont want. We also got ´nearly´ mugged twice walking about- what they do is approach you with friendly-looking body language so that the nearby police dont suspect anything, while simultaneously telling you to give them your money. We got around this by pretending we didnt understand a word they were saying until they eventually got fed up and gave up. One time we were right outside our hotel so we just did a runner inside and the owners chased them off.

After that incident we moved to the residencial neighborhood of Barra, which feels a lot safer and has a nice beach. An even nicer beach however was an hour or so away by bus in Praia do Forte, a really nice strip of beach with a lot of turtle conservation going on. They even had a big turtle rescue center with tons of huge turtles, which was really cool to see!

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Posted by St Martins 17:03 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Boat down the Amazon and Alter Do Chao


View South America on St Martins's travel map.

So after getting settled in to our super uncomfortable hammocks we started to relax and enjoy the views while floating down the amazon. The were a group of Hippys/Gypsy on the boat (the sort that make jewellery and sell whilst travelling to fund there travelling) who quickly noticed james guitar, his beard and his hair and invited him in to their group to play guitar whilst they sang and played bongos and stuff. It was about 1 in the afternoon and they were already knocking back vodka, beers and wine and then the conversation got a little heated, the vodka went over board along with someones t-shirt and the supposed hippies started having fistcuffs and attempting to launch each other over board! We have no idea what it was about but we tryed to steer clear from them for the rest of the boat although they were going to the same place as us and invited us to a friends house and said we could camp in the garden. We decided to take a rain check and said we might see them in town!

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When we got off the boat we headed straight to Alter Do Chao ´The Carribean of the Amazon´and it was beatiful! White sand beaches and crystal clear water right in the middle of the Amazon. It was such a lovely place, we checked in to a nice posada and spent the day on the beach drinking Agua do Coco and swimming in the river water. That night we cooked an awesome chicken stew which actually gave us both bad tummy for about the next week! That night we bumped in to our new friends in town and met their hippy friends who inevitably tryed to sell us there jewellery. We spent 5 days at Alter Do Chao doing not much at all apart from reading, swimming, enjoying the sun, using the toilet and hiding from the jewelery touting hippies!

Posted by St Martins 19:38 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Back in Brazil

More of the Amazon

So after undertaking another massive bus journey across the Gran Sabanna, getting repeatatively searched, and stopping a night in Santa Elaina, a fairly nice town on the Venezuelan border, we undertook our final border crossing of the trip- back into Brazil. The border crossing was fairly straightforward, except getting screwed over by the taxi driver again, who dropped us off at the Venezuelan exit side and left us to walk across the border to Brazil in the heat. Nevermind, at least we can say weve walked across 5 international borders. Anyway, it wasnt so much the roasting hot walk that was the problem, rather the fact that there were no cash machines at the border dispensing Brazillian reis. So we were stuck at the border, 2 hours away from the nearest Brazillian town of Boa Vista, which also contained the nearest cash machines. Again, common sense does not prevail in Latin America. We were also faced with the problem that we cant understand a word of Portugese, which makes everything much harder. Eventually we managed to explain our problem by speaking spanish with a portugese accent to a taxi driver, who said hed take us to a cash machine in Boa Vista and we could pay when we got there. ´Sem Problemas´. The only problem in fact was that he was smuggling loads of duty free beer over the border in his taxi and we got pulled over by the po po- but he somehow wangled his way out of it.
Once we got to Boa Vista, we decided to head straight to Manaus via a long road through the Amazon- meaning yet another epic bus journey. Anyway it wasnt so bad, we slept most of the way, and when the bus did inevitably break down in the arse end of nowhere, there were loads of parrots and toucans flying about to keep us entertained. When we did arrive the next day, we caught a bus into town with a Venezuelan guy we had met on the bus and checked into a cheap as chips hotel, with air con and everything. It was only after returning back at the hotel in the evening after a day of exploring Manaus, that we noticed the amount of skanky prostitutes lurking about the place, and realized we were staying in a Brothel. Which explained the cheap prices. The icing on the cake was when a pimp woke us up at about 3 in the morning to tell me my time was up and that I hadnt paid for the lady in my room. I had to explain that it was my girlfriend and that we were staying the nice. Nice.
So the next day we checked out straight away, and found a hostel to stay in- we ended up paying the same price as the air conditioned room for a pair of hammocks on the roof, but at least there were no skanky prossies- and we had a nice view.

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Manaus itself was a fairly indescript city- for me it lacked the cool jungle vibe of Iquitos- probably because its got a bit more money, so modern concrete skyscrapers have replaced most of the cool old rubber boom buidings. Still being Brazil, there was a cool music scene, and we sat out one night watching a really cool impromptu Bossa Nova gig in one of the plazas.
There were some other nice things to do around the city as well, one day we went to the ´forest of science´, a big leafy jungle park with some free roaming animals and some big manatees in a tank. It was cool because I had seen Stephen Fry swimming with those manatees in a documentary a year ago or something.

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We also took a day trip to see the Encuentro dos Aguas, or meeting of te waters, where two different coloured rivers run side by side without mixing together, which was quite cool. You cant actually see all that much from the water level, but we did get to see a cool little river town nearby with lots of colourful houses on stilts, where we ate a massive fish for about a pound, and then saw a load of grey river dolphins jumping about in the river on the way back which was nice!

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Anyway that was about it, we saw the encuentro a bit better the next day when we took a riverboat out of Manaus to Santarem...

Posted by St Martins 13:53 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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